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The Small Business Administration is making disaster loans available to small businesses who have suffered in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and experts advise owners that funds are also available through merchant cash financing. Although it may be too late now, the “superstorm” serves a reminder to all to have a disaster plan ready well before bad weather sets in. Winter is just around the corner, and the troubles faced by the East Coast should be a warning to those who have may not be prepared for what winter brings. For more on this continue reading the following article from TheStreet.

What's happening in small business today?

1. Hurricane Sandy small-business disaster loans will be available. Is your business in the path of Hurricane Sandy? Make sure you know your options for small-business disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.

Another option is merchant cash financing, though small businesses should read the fine print for terms and conditions as these advances are costly. That said, it might be the only option for those in a pinch.

Citi Wide Merchant Funding issued a press release assuring small-business owners that it will begin to process Disaster Assistance Express Small Business loans beginning Monday and for the next 30 days for those who need immediate working capital.

The program will receive top processing priority and qualified businesses will be funded in 48 to 72 hours, the company says. There is no application fee and no down payment required for businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy. Small-business owners can apply online, the company says.

Citi Wide Merchant Funding says that, unlike SBA disaster-loan programs, the Express Business Loan can be used to expand your business and no collateral is required. Insurance proceeds that result from Hurricane Sandy are not required to be applied to the loan balance. Personal financial statements are not required for approval or loan disbursement. Terms are available up to two years.

2. Even if your business isn't in the path of Hurricane Sandy, now is a good time to make sure you have a disaster plan ready. One of the most important aspects of disaster planning for businesses is to have a crisis communications strategy set up.

"You want to develop a plan to make sure your employees, customers, vendors, contractors -- everyone you do business with -- is aware of the progress you're making as you recover in the aftermath of a disaster," according to the SBA.

Tips to get your company's crisis communication plan going, include:

  • Develop and regularly update an emergency contact list;
  • Establish an email alert system and consider using social media (if power is still available);
  • Local media can also be a good resource during a disaster and as you rebuild afterwards;
  • Be sure to designate primary and secondary spokespersons who have been trained in dealing with the media.

3. Prepare your business now for inclement winter weather. The Small Business Administration will be holding a webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. ET on winter weather preparedness for your business.

"If your organization is affected by adverse weather conditions, how well will you be prepared to serve those who depend on you in their time of need?"

The SBA and disaster-recovery firm Agility Recovery will host the hour-long event to share practical, applicable tips and best practices to mitigate the risks posed by winter weather.

This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.